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Capezio donates tap shoes to Uganda
Capezio donates tap shoes to Uganda
Blog Dance News

Capezio donates tap shoes to NYU Uganda program

  • May 17, 2016
  • by Chelsea Thomas

Every year, New York University/Steinhardt offers a Dance Education Study Abroad Program in Kampala, Uganda for its graduate students and qualified undergraduate seniors. Participating students have the opportunity to teach, create and perform for locals, as well as take traditional Ugandan dance classes. In January, the program celebrated its 10th year as it once again led students to the landlocked country in East Africa.

Last fall when the students began to prepare for their adventure, NYU/Steinhardt Dance Education Faculty Member and National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) Treasurer Patricia Cohen reached out to her network to see if anyone would like to donate tap shoes for the program. Through the connection of Dance Pathways Founder Susan Epstein, Capezio heard of their need and stepped in to contribute.

“When we received the request from the NDEO via NYU, we jumped at the chance to help facilitate shoes for their Ugandan outreach dance program, now in their 10th year!” said MaryBeth Wilson, Capezio’s VP of Marketing. “This wonderful organisation travels the world over bringing the joy of dance and dance education.”

When asked why she thought to reach out to Capezio for assistance, Epstein said,

“I have a close relationship with Capezio… I was hoping that they would be willing to donate to such an interesting and important international program.”

This program, designed by Deborah Damast of NYU and Jill Pribyl of Uganda, is truly a unique experience for all involved. It emphasises cultural connectivity and exchange, with both Ugandans learning from NYU students and NYU students learning from the Ugandans. Students from Kampala’s Makerere University teach traditional Ugandan dancing and drumming while NYU students instruct modern and tap.

Danielle Staropoli, the student leader of NYU’s MA Dance Education Program, facilitated the tap program. She recounted her experience: “For the first week, we focused on exchanging dances with the Makerere University students. This year, the NYU students (there were 15 of us) learned Larakaraka and Kimandwa, along with traditional drumming. In return, Deborah taught two modern pieces and I taught tap.”

“Also, during the first week we were split into teaching teams to prepare for the children workshops. We designed a lesson plan based on a theme of our choice. We had a few lecture sessions on culture and pedagogy to help us understand the expectations of a teacher-student relationship in Uganda and how we can creatively work within those boundaries,” she continued. “For the second week, the children workshops were in the morning, then we had lunch, and then rehearsed/finished all of the dances we started the previous week.”

For Staropoli, the neat part was presenting tap dance to them. “Although I was introducing them to tap, it was actually bringing tap back to its roots,” she said. Epstein appreciated the significance in this as well, noting, “Historically, the roots of tap are founded in minstrel shows of the south, and those roots are African. It seemed to me we had come full circle.”

Staropoli said her students really committed themselves to her lessons, taking time out of their lunch break to tap with her. She shared, “We had a one-hour lunch, but anyone who wanted to tap had a 30-minute lunch and then tap class. I was really impressed that all of the Makerere University students participated in the tap sessions. They were eager and open to learning new things with such a positive attitude. “

At the end of the program, the students had the opportunity to perform a tap piece at the National Theatre of Kampala.

“The audience roared with excitement throughout the entire piece; it was amazing!” Staropoli recalled. “I felt so proud of everyone who participated in the tap piece because they confidently displayed everything they learned, even though we only had two weeks together.”

Staropoli is especially grateful to Capezio for contributing 10 pairs of adult tap shoes and five pairs of children’s tap shoes to her fundraiser, which altogether gathered 115+ gently-used and brand-new pairs. She exclaimed, “I am so appreciative for Capezio’s support because it provided such a wonderful teaching and learning experience for everyone involved. “

“This experience was extremely memorable from start to finish,” she added.

The tap shoes that were not used by the Makerere University students were divided up and donated to the six other dance centres the NYU students visited during their trip.

On the Capezio donation, Wilson concluded, “It’s all about the equal freedom of expression through dance no matter who you are or where you live. These are facets Capezio values, so working together with the NDEO was a wonderful partnership.”

Produced by Dance Informa.

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